Icebreaker Activities (Longer)

Famous Names

As each participant enters the room, pin the name of a famous person on his or her back. The rules are that the participant can ask each person in the room one question that can be answered by either a “yes” or a “no.” (Example: “Is this famous person still alive?”) After the participant receives the answer, he or she must move on and ask another person the next question. The first person to guess his or her “identity” gets a prize.

Additional Option: This activity can be related to the volunteering placement by choosing words or phrases related to a theme instead of famous people. For example, you could use qualities of an ideal volunteer, or places you see on the way to volunteering, or values that you’re teaching children that you work with. Afterwards, you can do a group go-around where each person says the word they have and the thoughts that it prompts for them.

Wink Murder

Send one person out of the room to be the detective, and then choose someone in the room to be the murderer. Bring the detective back into the room. Everyone mills about and the murderer can kill people by winking at them. When the murderer winks at someone, they must count to 10 and then act out a dramatic death. The detective has three chances to guess who the murderer is.

Two Truths and a Lie

Have each person state three things about themselves; two of which are the truth and one of which is a lie. Ask the rest of the group to guess which fact is false.

Human Knot

The team gets into a circle. Each person reaches in and takes the hands of two different people opposite from them.  They attempt to untangle themselves without anyone letting go of the hands that they are holding. Because this activity involves physical contact, it's a good idea to remind people that they can pass if they wish. You could suggest that if anyone wants to take an observer role they can pay attention to the team dynamics while the rest of the group solves the puzzle.

“Most Deprived” Game

Each person has an equal number of candies to start the game. In turn, each person thinks of one thing she/he has never done and says: “I’m most deprived because I’ve never….” Everyone else in the group gives that person one candy if they have done that thing.

Get to Know You Questions (M&Ms Game)

Allow each person to take 4 M&M’s (or other coloured candy). To eat an M&M they must answer a question that depends on the colour M&M they want to eat. Some questions you could use are:

  • What do you do for fun?
  • What was your favourite thing to do as a kid?
  • What would be your ideal vacation?
  • What do you like about what you’re studying?
  • What quality do you appreciate most in a friend?
  • Who has inspired or influenced you in a positive way?
  • If you knew you wouldn’t fail and money was no object, what would you do in the next 5 years?

Random Q & A

Each person writes a question on a piece of paper. The questions are placed in a bowl and shuffled. Randomly, each person picks a paper out of the bowl and writes an answer to that question on the back of the paper. Go around, having one person read their question and the next person read their answer (so that they’re reading an answer to a different question than the one that was asked, which leads to some funny combinations).

Sorting

The leader calls out two contrasting choices and has the group move to the East or West side of the room. For example, if you prefer reading a book go East and if you’d rather watch a movie go West. After giving some time for people to sort themselves, the leader calls out two more choices and has the group move North and South. Additional choices could include:

  • Watch TV / listen to music
  • Eat broccoli / carrots
  • Be an apple / banana
  • Be indoors / outdoors
  • Dress up / dress casually
  • Visit the doctor / dentist
  • Not hear / not see
  • Have a beach / mountain holiday
  • Own a lizard / snake
  • Go without television / fast food for the rest of your life
  • Be the most popular / smartest person you know
  • Make headlines for saving somebody’s life / winning a Nobel Prize
  • Be able to fly / read minds

Alternate Option: Play a “Would You Rather?” game, where you go around the circle and each person must state which option they prefer.

Lifeboats

The facilitator calls out a category and the group has to mingle around and find others with the same or similar answer. After people have formed small groups, go around and have each group give their answer. If more than one group has the same answer then the group should be encouraged to mingle better the next time. Examples of categories include: colour of socks you’re wearing, favourite dessert, favourite kind of music, where you grew up, place you’d like to visit, least favourite chore, if you could be the very best at something what would it be?

Additional Option: After each round, an icebreaker or reflection question can be given for the groups to discuss for a few minutes. Examples: What interested you in joining this volunteer group? What are you hoping for? What apprehensions do you have?

3 Things In Common

Have everyone pair-up with a group member they do not know well. Each pair will introduce themselves to each other and try to find three things that they have in common. After all pairs have found their three things, have each pair join with another pair to make groups of four. Each group of four must now find three things that all four people have in common. If time allows, you can continue to groups of eight.

Talk Show Scenario

Have everyone pair-up with a group member they do not know well.  Have each pair choose who will be the “host” and who will be the “guest.” Each host will have a few minutes to interview their guest, and then they switch so that the other person gets to be the host. After the interview session each host should introduce their guest to the rest of the group. Here are some questions you could ask: Why are they volunteering? What attracted them to this particular volunteer placement? What do they hope to learn? Do they have any fears or anxieties about volunteering? What do they enjoy doing in their spare time?

Additional Option: have half the group stay seated and the other half move around so they meet everyone, giving everyone 2 minutes to ask the questions and have a conversation.

Circle of Trust

Have the group form a tight circle, with their hands up in front of them. One person stands in the center of the circle, crosses their arms over their chest, and keeps their feet together. Slowly, the person in the centre leans back and the circle will catch them and prevent them from falling. The circle passes them around from person to person.

Important safety considerations:

  • Tell the person in the center to call “falling” before they move. In response the group calls “fall away.” This ensures that the group is alert and prepared to catch the person.
  • Ensure that the space around the circle is clear from any furniture or other objects.
  • Catchers need to be ready to take the person’s weight, and should be particularly careful to protect their head.

What If?

Create cards that have “What If?” questions. Have volunteers choose a card and answer the question. Go around the circle until all the questions have been answered.  Example “What If” Questions